Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bad Friday: St. Louis Tornado Rated EF-4

Images (click to enlarge): Radar image at 8:30 pm CDT, April 22, showing intense thunderstorms and EF-4 tornado moving through St. Louis area, from Intellicast; St. Louis tornado track from NWS; Storm damage at St. Louis airport from NWS

A tornado which caused extensive damage in the northern suburbs of St. Louis on Good Friday evening, April 22, has been rated EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale by the National Weather Service (NWS). EF-4 includes winds of 208-260 mph, with gusts as high as 261 mph. The storm was one of 2 tornadoes in the St. Louis metropolitan area. It was the strongest tornado in St. Louis County since January 24th 1967. The NWS reports, "Some of the most intense damage occurred in St. Louis County across Maryland Heights, Bridgeton, St. Ann, Edmundson, Lambert St. Louis International Airport, Berkeley, and Ferguson and in Madison County near Granite City." At the airport,
Many of the large windows in the main terminal building were blown out or damaged by flying debris and a large section of roof was peeled from Concourse C. Although the vast majority of people were evacuated to lower levels and to interior rooms before the tornado hit, 5 people were treated and released from area hospitals for injuries due to flying debris. The airport was closed due to the extensive damage.
Some flights had resumed by Sunday, with full operations expected by midweek.

The lack of deaths from the storm was attributed to the advance warning of at least half an hour and excellent response by the public.

This was the second major tornado outbreak in a metropolitan area in less than a week, following the Raleigh tornado last Saturday, April 16. The Weather Channel reports that there have been 28 tornadoes in St. Louis County since 1950, but there have now been 2 of them since New Year's Eve, both EF-3 or higher.

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